India’s conflict-ridden Manipur state held a much-awaited single-day session of its local assembly – but the proceedings were adjourned within an hour with no announcement of when they will begin again.
This was the first session to take place in the northeastern state’s legislative assembly ever since ethnic clashes broke out between the minority Kuki and majority Meitei communities nearly four months ago on 3 May.
Nearly 180 people have died in the conflict, while tens of thousands remain displaced.
The single-day session was hurriedly convened to meet a constitutional requirement that says the gap between two legislative sessions cannot be more than six months – a period that would have been expired on 2 September.
The single-day session, called through summons on 21 August, could not be attended by 10 Kuki-Zomi lawmakers, who earlier conveyed their inability to travel to Meitei-dominated state capital Imphal due to security concerns.
The conflict began after Kukis began protesting against benefits and quotas being extended to Meiteis. Since then, both sides have taken up arms as vicious violence engulfed the state and effectively split Manipur into two parts.
The collapse of law and order in the state is such that locals have set up their own checkpoints and disallowed members of the other communities from entering the respective territories they dominate.
Earlier in May, local Kuki lawmaker Vungzagin Valte, belonging to BJP, was attacked by a mob while on his way home from a meeting with chief minister N Biren Singh in the capital. He was beaten, given electric shocks and has been bedridden since the incident.
On Tuesday, while the assembly condoled the death of tribals and non-tribals killed in the violence, it failed to carry out a discussion on the issue despite demands from various quarters, including the main opposition Congress party.
The assembly, however, found time to laud the successful landing of India’s Chandrayaan-3 moon mission and congratulate N Raghu Singh, a scientist from the state who was a part of the mission.
“With great sorrow, we condole the deaths of those killed in the violence. In times like these, words seem inefficient for those who have lost their loved ones in the strife,” chief minister Singh said in his address.
He also moved a resolution in the legislative assembly “to stay together in these trying times by healing wounds, fostering unity and creating brighter future for all residents”.
It was adopted amid ruckus from the opposition that demanded the session be extended to five days, so the violence in the state could be discussed.
Led by former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, the opposition said a single day was not enough to discuss the situation.
The opposition also began raising slogans in the assembly.
The chief minister, however, said the state government did not intend to hold a discussion on the violence. This was because, as per the rules of procedure, discussion on sub-judice matters is not allowed in the assembly, reported The Indian Express.